WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today approved the reprogramming request from the Obama Administration that will redirect $750 million in the Department of Defense’s Ongoing Contingency Operation (OCO) account to support the U.S. military’s mission in the Ebola response effort.
“When the Senate Armed Services Committee first received the Administration’s request to reprogram $1 billion in defense funding to support the Ebola mission in West Africa, I raised numerous concerns about the lack of a coherent strategy, insufficient details on how our men and women in uniform would be protected, and a failure to consider a transition of financial and operational responsibility from our military to a more appropriate entity. In response, the Defense Department came forward Wednesday with additional information regarding the protocol to care for the health of our servicemembers serving in the region. As a few thousand of our troops will be sent into harms way, I am deeply committed to continuing to conduct rigorous oversight of this mission to ensure our men and women are provided the protection they deserve and I will hold the Administration accountable.
“As for my concerns on transitioning this likely long-term mission to more appropriate government agencies and non-government organizations when the requested money runs out, the Administration still has not come forward with a plan. The slow response by the President's State Department and international community when Ebola was first considered an outbreak in March has contributed to the crisis we are confronted with today. After careful consideration, I believe that the outbreak has reached a point that the only organization in the world able to provide the capabilities and speed necessary to respond to this crisis is the U.S. military. Today, I joined my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives by allowing the Defense Department to utilize up to $750 million to support Operation United Assistance over the next six months, as has been requested by the Pentagon. But because of the failure of the Obama Administration to responsibly and strategically plan in advance for how the U.S. will be involved in West Africa, it will be difficult for me to support any further last-minute funding requests using military resources. That is why I have insisted another more appropriate funding source be identified for operations beyond six months. Significant cuts to the defense budget have eroded the readiness and capabilities of our military, and I cannot support the indefinite commitment of our troops to this mission.”